Magnhild Øen Nordahl

The Distance To The Horizon


Video, 26:34

To a person standing on the ground it looks like the Earth is flat. Science, on the other hand, has told us that the Earth is round, and that most other things also are not what they appear to be. Even if it feels like we are standing still we are traveling through space with enormous speed, and the ground we stand on and everything surrounding us is for the most part just empty space. There seems to be a gap between what science tells us and what we perceive through the body’s senses. 

The video “The Distance to the Horizon” documents a journey at sea made in an attempt to achieve an embodied understanding of the curvature of the Earth. How far one can see on the open ocean is limited by this curvature. The destination of the documented journey is the horizon visible at the journey’s starting point. Using a mathematical formula taking height above sea level and Earth radius as variables, it is possible to approximate how far one can see and how long the boat had to sail to get there. The mathematical formula is a simplified representation of reality, and if the goal was scientific accuracy the experiment would be in vain. Instead the project is about trying to understand how the lifeworld and science relate to each other.